Largest Animal on earth is NOT a blue whale

From: Greg Early (gregearly@downeast.net)
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 12:49:38 EST


http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask96/0029.html

Hi,

I was reading several areas of your website about the largest
(longest?) animal on earth. This was give as the blue whale. However,
at our class for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the head marine scientist
has stated that the largest animal on earth is a Sea Jelly (aka
jellyfish). I believe the length he gave was 126 feet, which is longer
than a Blue whale.

Do you agree with his assumption?

=======================================

Hey Cy,

You trying to start a slappy fight here??? OK.... let's take this guy from
the Aquarium downtown....

Well...actually this is one of those cases where everybody is right (sort
of....). First, the information on the blue whale is correct. Dr. Clapham
knows more about whales than is really healthy for normal people, and he
is...absolutely correct about the whale.

Now about the jelly fish...or as they are now politically correctly called
"sea jellies" (as they are neither made of jelly... nor fish)...we almost
had you on a technicality. You did not say which one they were talking
about, and usually the "largest" award goes to one of two creatures. The
Portuguese Man-of -was is one of them, which reportedly has tentacles over
one hundred feet long. The problem, here is that Portuguese- men-of-war are
actually colonies of animals, and not a single creature...so we could throw
that one out on a technicality (not actually a single creature).

There is , however a still longer sea jelly called the "Lions Mane". I have
heard of estimates of "over half a football field long" for this one. That
tops out at about 150 feet and would be longer than the longest whale, ever
measured. The issue here, though is...Do you have any idea how hard it is
to measure the length of a jellyfish that long? Think about it. It is
like....well... how do I put this delicately...like measuring a giant string
of spit. Giant sea jellies just don't hold together very well, so I suspect
that the measurement might be a "best estimate" sort of measurement (Two
guys in a boat see a really big jellyfish and say "Wow...that thing is
HUGE...like about half a football field long ...huh?).

Anyway...all of that notwithstanding, the sea jelly probably wins the
"longest" award...
Here is a good sea jelly website with more info:
http://www.cornellcollege.edu/~a-earney/JellyfishBasics.html

The "largest", however, would depend on your definition of the word
"largest". What Webster's says (on-line) is " largest...adj 1: greatest in
size of those under consideration". Although the sea jelly is longer, the
whale would be bigger in every other dimension (weight, girth,
displacement)...so my vote...not that I would be biased, (this is...after
all...not "JellyFishNet")...would still go to the whale...

Great catch on your part though....

ge

-----Original Message-----
From: handy [mailto:handy@redshift.com]
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 11:17 AM
To: gregearly@downeast.net
Subject: Largest Animal on earth is NOT a blue whale

http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask96/0029.html

Hi,

I was reading several areas of your website about the largest
(longest?) animal on earth. This was give as the blue whale. However,
at our class for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the head marine scientist
has stated that the largest animal on earth is a Sea Jelly (aka
jellyfish). I believe the length he gave was 126 feet, which is longer
than a Blue whale.

Do you agree with his assumption?

Thanks,
Cy Colburn
handy@redshift.com



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